New Year’s Eve 2019 is set to be different this year for a group of determined football fans as they descend on the Madejski Stadium to embark on the fifth Walk and Talk between Fulham FC and Reading FC.
They will walk 40 miles through the night, arriving at Craven Cottage for the game between the two clubs on New Year’s Day, all in aid of men’s mental health.
It will be the fifth time the journey has been made – the most recent coming in the opposite direction as the group made the trip from Craven Cottage to Madejski Stadium – a trip that began in September and ended on 1st October. This time, their voyage begins in Reading in 2019 and ends in the capital on New Year’s Day 2020.
Christmas and New Year can be a difficult and lonely time for people, and this group want to open up the conversations on mental health, raise awareness, and prevent male suicide. The last Fulham to Reading fan walk took a mammoth 19 hours – and in that time, nine men in the UK will have committed suicide. The team are compelled that the shocking statistics have to change.
Lee Adams, Fulham supporter and founder of Walk and Talk MMH, said: “I went through a difficult period some time ago. I felt alone, isolated, with nowhere to turn, and was close to taking my own life. Five years ago I started walking to Fulham FC away games, to raise awareness that 1 in 4 of us may suffer at some point in our lives, and I soon understood I wasn’t alone. I became motivated to turn my experiences into a positive to help and support others who felt the same as I had.
“People started to join me, and now this has become a huge movement of fans coming together from many teams, to let other men know that it’s okay to talk.”
The group believes that football has the power to help men who find themselves in a position of loneliness and isolation. Adams also added: “Something as simple as companionship can save lives. 2019 has given us so many successes with Walk and Talk. Stories of people who joined us on walks, who during subsequent depressive, and often suicidal episodes, reached for their phone and contacted the group. In 2020 we intend to build on those success stories by creating a community dedicated to look after each other.”
The team are keen for people to join them at Griffin Park, for the last stretch of the walk and talk at 11am on New Year’s Day – to show a strong message of unity towards male suicide prevention, and encouraging openness of the battles with mental health. So don’t hesitate, get in touch with the team via Twitter on @walkandtalkMMH or Instagram at @walkandtalk_MMH.